Farmers, restaurant owners say Georgia immigration law hurting business

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ATLANTA - Georgia’s law against illegal immigration is hurting restaurants and farmers by creating a labor shortage that results in lower sales, witnesses told a hearing this week held by Senate Democrats.

Nearly three of every four eateries surveyed by the Georgia Restaurant Association complained that qualified workers weren’t available, and 22 percent said applications for available jobs were down. Just 2 percent said they rely on the Department of Labor for new hires.

“People applying for jobs just aren’t qualified,” said Karen Bremer, executive director of the association of 16,000 restaurants.

As a result, many restaurant owners were closing off part of their dining rooms or taking items off their menus.

At the same time, farmers had 11,000 jobs they couldn’t fill during the summer harvest, costing them $150 million, according to a study conducted by the University of Georgia for the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

“Georgia’s fruit and vegetable economy has become the poster child of what can happen when you have a tough immigration law without an adequate guest-worker program,” said association spokesman Charles Hall.

He favors expanding the federal guest-worker program to allow more migrant workers with less paperwork.

Paul Bridges, mayor of Uvalda near Vidalia, said farmers in his area who can’t get immigrant laborers are switching from onions to crops that can be harvested by machine. However, those machine crops bring in less money, crippling the support businesses and tax base in his small town.

“It’s destroying Georgia’s economy,” said Bridges, who is challenging the law’s constitutionality in court.

walter.jones@morris.com, (404) 589-8424

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Vito45
-2
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Vito45 11/19/11 - 10:11 am
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"He favors expanding the

"He favors expanding the federal guest-worker program to allow more migrant workers with less paperwork."

This is all I've ever asked; allow the guest worker program to fill the needs for migrant and seasonal work. I don't know about the less paperwork part because we need to know who we are dealing with and be able keep track of them, collecting appropriate taxes, etc. If they work hard and stay clean, I'm all for making that a path to citizenship.

But for the millions of illegals already here? They would need to double time it back across the border to get processed in legally. I also have no problem with charging a substantial fee for the permit to cover the cost of staffing up and building new processing facilities at all of the border crossings. After all, many pay $thousands$ to coyotes to smuggle them over, so paying a few hundred would sound like a bargain.

Haki
31
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Haki 11/19/11 - 10:17 am
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It's only a problem when

It's only a problem when they're not needed. When the price of fruits and vegetables double, the so-called conservatives will quite down.

lsmith
105
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lsmith 11/19/11 - 02:49 pm
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Workers Unqualified? What a
Unpublished

Workers Unqualified? What a crock! These jobs do not require a great deal of training or sophistication, what they do require is somebody willing to work for almost nothing!!! Farmers, restaurant owners... pay your employees a living wage and you'll have no problem finding qualified and willing American workers.

Hucklebuck
43
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Hucklebuck 11/19/11 - 03:21 pm
0
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The problem is that they pay

The problem is that they pay these illegals under the table while their families overcrowd our schools, fill up the welfare/food stamp/medicaid rolls. while the farmer sits in his house counting money its the rest of us that really pick up the tab. I don't think that the issue is laziness I think that its the fact the they can't get away paying american citizens what they pay our illegal brothers.

Brad Owens
4720
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Brad Owens 11/19/11 - 04:36 pm
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Cry me a river.

Cry me a river.

TheGeorgian
432
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TheGeorgian 11/19/11 - 06:17 pm
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What about giving these jobs

What about giving these jobs to the American long-term unemployed? So they won't get rich. So what? It's better than going hungry!

justthefacts
22697
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justthefacts 11/20/11 - 08:41 am
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Pay higher salary and raise

Pay higher salary and raise prices to protect the margin. Same issue with China made goods. Americans have to be willing to pay more if they want manufacturing to return to the U.S.

Brad Owens
4720
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Brad Owens 11/20/11 - 09:05 am
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I thought GA had a 10%

I thought GA had a 10% unemployment rate?

ADAMS
19
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ADAMS 11/20/11 - 09:13 am
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" People applying for jobs

" People applying for jobs just aren't qualified," said Karen Bremer, executive director of the association of 16,000 restaurants, " a monstrous lie" Restaurant jobs are the lowest paying jobs in Georgia, my eight grader can take orders, cook and wash dishes. Restaurant owners are so attached to paying cheap labor wages to illegal immigrates and now they're singing the blues.

ADAMS
19
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ADAMS 11/20/11 - 10:37 am
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" People applying for jobs

" People applying for jobs aren't qualified," said Karen Bromer, executive director of the association of 16,000 restaurants, " a monstrous lie." Restaurant jobs in Georgia are the lowest paying around the country. My eight grader can take orders, cook, and wash dishes. Restaurant owners are so attached to paying cheap labor wages to over worked illegal immigrates and now they're singing the blues.

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